Vladimir Putin, in a virtual address to the Brics summit in South Africa, proposed that the group should evolve into a powerful trading bloc, representative of the “global majority.” The Russian president’s articulation underscored the potential transformative role Brics could play in international trade dynamics. However, amidst the gathering of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, fissures regarding the inclusion of new members and the group’s geopolitical orientation have surfaced.
Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, accentuated the collective’s intent not to vie with Western establishments, expressing a desire to focus on internal consolidation rather than rivalry. The White House echoed this sentiment, acknowledging the inherent diversity within the Brics nations and acknowledging differences that exist on critical global matters.
Putin, in his message, attributed the volatility in global markets, particularly in the commodities sector, to western sanctions. He positioned Brics as a catalyst for equity in international relations, championing cooperation premised on equality, mutual support, and respect for each other’s interests. He envisaged Brics’ strategic trajectory as aligned with the aspirations of the “global majority,” reflecting the group’s commitment to shaping global discourse.
The Brics collective embodies 40% of the world’s population and a significant quarter of global GDP. The summit not only brought together leaders from the Brics nations but also representatives from over 40 countries, largely from Africa and the global south, signifying the allure of the Brics platform. Amidst considerations of expansion, discord exists among member states regarding the extent of expansion and the criteria governing new memberships. While countries like Brazil are supportive of Argentina’s inclusion, there’s apprehension that excessive expansion could dilute the group’s potency.
Xi Jinping’s conspicuous absence on the first day of the summit prompted speculation, with his speech being conveyed by Chinese commerce minister Wang Wentao. In his address, Xi accentuated that Brics’ expansion was not meant to fuel polarization or bloc confrontation. Instead, it aimed to amplify the architecture of peace and development, aligning with the principles of unity and collaboration.
Despite anticipated consensus on alternatives to trading in dollars and the potential establishment of parallel financial institutions, the creation of a Brics common currency is unlikely. The summit also grapples with the divisive issue of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Putin’s virtual presence at the summit underlined the global complexities and challenges faced by the group.
While the Brics platform offers an avenue for nations to explore common interests, tensions between China and India and Russia’s actions in Ukraine pose substantial hurdles to cohesive integration. The discourse at the summit captured the delicate balance between aspiration and divergence within the Brics framework, reflecting the intricate dynamics of global politics and economics.